Certain spots in Queens can be dark and desolate if one doesn’t know where they’re going. One pocket in Elmhurst is an abyss of black except for one glimmer. The luminescence derives from two golden arcs. This isn’t a McDonald’s marquee. The golden arcs are the quintessential symbol of the local fast food franchise, McDowell’s, basically McDonald’s with a twist.
Employees with thick southern African accents greet you as they open the door. Even at the witching hour, their smiles create powerful positive energy. Someone attempts to rob the place; the front-of-the-house-employee-of-the-month keeps his grin going as he takes down the alleged criminals.
Popular menu items are the Big Mick, Filet O’ Cod, A-Third Pounder with Cheese, fries, and Queen-sized soft drinks. The Assistant Manager pushes the Mick Roast sandwich because it’s only for a limited time. The kid’s option is a Happy Grub Meal.
Food is burning hot inside a plastic no-frills wrapper. The Big Mick is a Big Mac but without the sesame seeds on top of the bun. Some may argue sesame seeds add flavor, but once you bite into the Big Mick, you’ll realize they’re a nuisance, like ketchup. Fries need malt vinegar. The McFrozen is chocolate ice cream blended with chocolate covered pretzels.
Some call McDowell’s the generic McDonald’s because line cooks study the McDonald’s Operations Manual. And though McDowell’s might seem like an imitation McDonald’s, it seems more like a Wendy’s to me.
ATMOSPHERE: One large 250 person main room with plastic booths and tables with bolted down chairs. Has “fast food” written all over it, a get in and get out mentality.
SERVICE: Gracious, kind, apt to go above and beyond the call of duty.
SOUND LEVEL: Quiet and calm for the most part. Windows don’t block outside traffic noise.
RECOMMENDED: Big Mic, Filet O’ Cod (ask for fries on the sandwich and malt vinegar, McFrozen with bits of chocolate pretzels
DRINKS AND WINE: No alcoholic beverages served. Only soft drinks, shakes, juices, water, and coffee beverages.
PRICES Drinks, starters, sides, and desserts range from $1-$4. Main entrees go from $4-$7.
OPEN: All 7 Days, from 6am-3am.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: One Ramp by the two main doors.